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Friday, April 10, 2009

Einstein, Newton: Autistic?

According to some new research, Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein may have suffered from a form of autism. Researchers from both Cambridge and Oxford note both men had characteristics associated with Asperger's Syndrome. Sufferers of Asperger's Syndrome have trouble communicating with people, are often considered eccentric, and are usually obsessed (to varying degrees) with complex matters.

Einstein displayed these characteristics from a young age. He was always a loner and he often repeated sentences obsessively. Later in life, he became more social and even had several affairs, though he continued to be a bad lecturer. He was also known for his sense of humor. While some characteristics seem at-odds with the diagnosis, researchers insist Einstein had the characteristics associated with the condition.

Newton, on the other hand, displayed "classic" symptoms. He hardly spoke, he was engrossed with his work to the point that he forgot to eat, and was often lukewarm or ill-tempered with the few friends he did have. It is said that if no one turned up to his lectures, he gave them to an empty room! Newton had a nervous breakdown at age 50.

Regardless, many still believe the men's troubles were due to their high intelligence, not Asperger's. Jerry, the neurotic lawyer from Boston Legal, had Asperger's Syndrome. While played largely for laughs, and Jerry's many mental issues were varied and all over the place, experts note that victims of the disease can still excel professionally and in other aspects of life. In fact, passion for one's work and interest(s) is an indication of the condition. But highly intelligent people are often somewhat socially inept and just as passionate about their work and interests.

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

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